Context: Assessment of quality of care in heart failure has focused on the development and use of process-based performance measures, with the presumption that these processes are associated with improved clinical outcomes. However, this link remains largely untested.
Objective: To examine the relationship between current American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) performance measures for patients hospitalized with heart failure and relevant clinical outcomes.
Design, setting, and patients: The Organized Program to Initiate Lifesaving Treatment in Hospitalized Patients With Heart Failure, a registry and performance improvement program for patients hospitalized with heart failure. Sixty- to ninety-day postdischarge follow-up data were prospectively collected from 5791 patients at 91 US hospitals in a prespecified 10% sample between March 2003 and December 2004. Mean patient age was 72.0 years, 51% were male, 78% were white, and 42% had ischemic etiology. Multivariable and propensity-adjusted analyses were performed to assess the process-outcome relationship for each performance measure in eligible patients. Additionally, we evaluated the process-outcome link of a potential performance measure for beta-blockade at discharge among eligible patients hospitalized with heart failure.
Main outcome measures: Sixty- to ninety-day mortality and combined mortality/rehospitalization rates.
Results: Mortality during follow-up was 8.6% and mortality/rehospitalization was 36.2%. None of the 5 ACC/AHA heart failure performance measures was significantly associated with reduced early mortality risk, and only angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker use at discharge was associated with 60- to 90-day postdischarge mortality or rehospitalization. Beta-blockade at the time of hospital discharge, currently not a heart failure performance measure, was strongly associated with reduced risk of mortality (hazard ratio, 0.48; 95% confidence interval, 0.30-0.79; P = .004) and mortality/rehospitalization during follow-up.
Conclusions: Current heart failure performance measures, aside from prescription of an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker at discharge, have little relationship to patient mortality and combined mortality/rehospitalization in the first 60 to 90 days after discharge. Additional measures and better methods for identifying and validating heart failure performance measures may be needed to accurately assess and improve care of patients with heart failure.